Cover of Sweethearts, with a pink iced heart-shaped cookie that has a bite taken out of it

About the Book

Title: Sweethearts
Published: 2008
Swoonworthy Scale: 9

Cover Story: Coverstastic
BFF Charm: YAY!!!!!!!
Talky Talk: Straight Up
Bonus Factors: Mysterious Loner Dude, Broken Heart
Relationship Status: My Heart Will Go On

Okay, so I feel like I won the lottery in being the last FYAer to read this book! Now, I will try to do it justice in report form. Basically, GO OUT AND PURCHASE THIS BOOK IMMEDIATELY YOU WILL READ IT OVER AND OVER AND OMG!!!! (Yeah, I pulled out the Kanye caps. That’s how serious I am.)

Cover Story: Coverstastic

We all gripe about the covers we DON’T like, so it’s time to stand up, sistas (and Brian) and RECA’NIZE when a cover rocks! This one is simple and sweet, and has FOOD on the cover!

The Deal:

In grade school Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick (cue massive sighs) were the outcasts to beat all outcasts. But they had each other, and their childhood love was so deep and pure, the adults in their lives couldn’t really fathom it. So when Cameron Quick (I can’t really say his first name without saying his last name, you know?) disappeared suddenly, Jennifer felt that the one bright shining star in her world had been snuffed out, taking her with it.

Now in high school, she’s known as Jenna. Jenna has lost a lot of weight, has multiple friends, and for the very first time, a boyfriend. She’s learned how to be funny, easy-to-get-along-with and popular. But every time she looks in the mirror, Jenna sees Jennifer, and she can’t shake the desolate feelings of being an outcast, or the ones that Cameron Quick left behind.

So when Cameron Quick reappears, Jenna’s heart is turned upside-down as she faces their shared memories of the past, and who they have become in the present.

BFF Charm: YAY!!!!!

Jennifer Harris/Jenna Vaughn, I want to tell you RIGHT NOW that I love you with all of my heart, and all the Milky Way bars in the ocean!!! You are the bosomest of buddies, and the closest thing to a soul mate I will ever have. We may have had very different childhoods, but what matters is that our hearts beat the same way: strong, if uncertain. I pledge that I will be there for you no matter what. I will comfort you when you feel like an outcast, I will help you see yourself with eyes unclouded by the past, and–even though this will be the hardest part of my pledge to keep– I will never let my own feelings for Cameron Quick get in the way of our friendship. I will never judge you, and I will be there to just understand and give you a hug when you have thoughts like this:

I saw a motivational speaker on TV who said that the past only had whatever power you gave it; life was what you made it and if you wanted something different from what you had, it was up to you to make it happen….. That was easy to think. My body told me a different story as I did my hair. October eighteenth was a thing I could feel in my stomach and fingers and at the back of my neck, an all-over sort of feeling that convinced me the motivational speaker was wrong. Life was mostly made up of things you couldn’t control, full of surprises, and they weren’t always good. Life wasn’t what you made it. You were what life made you.

You know how sometimes the protagonist in a YA novel is supposed to be introspective and deep, but to us, as adult readers, comes off whiney and immature? THIS IS NOT SO WITH JENNIFER HARRIS. Maybe it’s because at some point in our lives, we’ve all reinvented ourselves, leaving the nagging image of our past self standing just behind our shoulder, or maybe it’s that it’s the curse of human nature to feel isolated at times– even among friends, but Zarr captured the melancholy of loneliness that, I think, lives in the hearts of each and every one of us.


Swoonworthy Scale: 9

It’s almost strange that this book, which is not necessarily chocked full of romance per se, gets such a high swoonworthy scale. But you what? Actually, it’s not strange at all. The words on every page are about true love and discovery and growth, and isn’t that what swoon is all about?

Talky Talk: Straight Up

It’s hard for me to describe how much this author’s words affected me. It’s one of the most poignant books I’ve ever ever read, ever. It’s one of those books that makes you feel like nothing you say about it can do justice to the artful way in which it was written. I kept going back to re-read passages, like this one:

The printing was neat, precise, the envelope a little lumpy like there was something in it. Even before I opened it, my mind was already racing ahead, gathering facts and retrieving memories and putting together bits of information into what I suddenly realized was the truth. It was like when you see a movie, a mystery, and you make assumptions based on what you see until the very end when you get one piece of information that makes you realize that everything you thought, everything you assumed, was wrong, and you wonder how you ever could have believed what you did. And the truth I came to as I opened the envelope was this: Cameron Quick was not dead.

Sara Zarr is officially my hero.

Bonus Factor: Mysterious Loner Dude

Picture of Jordan Catalano, a hot brooding stoner, in My So-Called Life

I hereby make this proclamation: Cameron Quick is the ULTIMATE mysterious loner dude. They really don’t come any more mysterious than this, or any more vulnerable, or any more true, or any more heartbreaking, or any more frustrating, and GAH!!!! Cameron Quick, where are you? Call me!!!!

Bonus Factor: Broken Heart

Red neon sign of a broken heart

You might think this an odd bonus factor. But Zarr made me cry. She filled me with melancholic longing. She brought up my own feelings of being an outcast. And she reassured me that I would survive. That I could flourish. That I will continue to grow and yearn and live. And even thrive.

Relationship Status: My Heart Will Go On

I actually agonized over this relationship status, and ultimately recruited Sarah’s help. See, I could tell you that I would marry this book in a heartbeat. But that’s not actually a realistic portrayal of how things will work out for us. I love this book in a way that I feel it will always be a part of me. We will always be connected, no matter where life takes us. Every time the phone rings, my pulse will quicken and I’ll wonder, if just for a moment, if it’s the book calling. And maybe it will call, from time to time, but I’ll move on with my life, and my friends, and my loves. But I will tell you this: I’ll never let go, Sweethearts. I’ll never let go.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received neither money nor cocktails in exchange for this review.

Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.